According to Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the front-runner to be Ukraine’s acting prime minister, there is a simple way for the country to avoid the fate of a failed revolution without a leader: “take responsibility.”
But, though Ukrainian leaders like talking about it, taking responsibility is not something they are fond of doing. In fact, they have built an entire political and foreign policy machine to avoid it.
The courage of Ukrainian citizens must be met with generosity from the West in the form of open markets, visa-free travel and help in reforming a broken system. But Westerners must do it in a way that empowers Ukrainian citizens. The key to a successful Ukraine government now is for responsibility to become a reality — particularly among the political and business elite.
After the adrenaline and sacrifice of a revolution, the business of reconstruction and administration can be prosaic. But in Kiev, the contrast between the bravery of the street protesters and the venality of Ukraine’s permanent political class is pronounced. Today the political class is seeking to absolve itself of responsibility for Ukraine’s problems by pinning as much blame as possible on Viktor Yanukovich, the run-away president who has been indicted with mass killings.
However, many of Ukraine’s opposition leaders, such as Yatseniuk, Petro Poroschenko and Yulia Tymoschenko, have been complicit in the creation of the current system. Even people newer to political life, such as Vitaliy Kitschko, have been trying to keep up with civic leaders like Volodymyr Parasiuk, the youthful leader, rather than setting the pace of events in Maidan Square.